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To say that globalization has become the global cliché of our time has itself turned into a cliché in academic writing on the subject. By the end of the twentieth century, however, most social scientists, including anthropologists, acknowledged that globalization is a genuinely important topic of enquiry and that – despite its often ill-defined, catch-all connotations – it does label a distinctive transformative process that appears to have taken hold in many parts of the contemporary world, including India.
Definitions of globalization abound, but paraphrasing Held and his co-authors (1999: 14–15), we may initially define it as the widening, deepening and speeding up of global interconnectedness, a spatio-temporal process of change that links local or national social relations and networks with worldwide, global ones and thereby transforms ‘the organization of human affairs’. A particularly important aspect is the ‘deepening enmeshment of the local and global’, so that distant events may have more and more local significance, and vice versa (ibid.: 15). This aspect is one to which anthropologists can particularly contribute, and introducing their volume on the anthropology of globalization, Inda and Rosaldo point out that anthropology ‘is most concerned with the articulation of the global and the local’ (2002: 4), with how globalization interacts with particular societies and cultures, and how ordinary people themselves experience and understand the process.
‘If the charkha was the symbol of the Indian Independence, the seed is the symbol for protection of this independence.’
M. D. Nanjundaswamy, President of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, 29 December 1993
Siddeshvara village in Bidar district, Karnataka, contained about 600 households and 4,000 inhabitants in 1997. Its cramped houses, made of a mixture of straw, stones and mortar, are linked by narrow lanes which are filled with water, rubbish, excrement and cow dung during the monsoon. The Siddeshvara temple overlooks the houses. A new statue recently installed by the members of the dominant caste of Virashaiva-Lingayats marks the entrance to the village. The climate is dry, there is little or no irrigation, harvests are disappointing, the local government is inefficient, and the state apparatus appears to be indifferent.
Shivaraj Mainalle lived in Siddeshvara. He was some 40 years old and the father of five children, the youngest of whom was in the primary school in the fifth standard. He owned 1.28 hectares of land and farmed 3.6 hectares as a tenant (lavani). In 1995– 97, he lost all his harvests because of parasitical worms and the vagaries of the weather. His debt to the local cooperative bank had risen to 24,000 rupees at the end of 1997 and he owed 80,000 rupees to a private moneylender in the village. The purchase of pesticides alone cost him more than 20,000 rupees. Notwithstanding this period of distress, his moneylender demanded his due.
Everyone invokes secularism in India. So the spectrum of secularism is very large. However, it is rather the spectral ideas of “majority” (hindus) and “minorities” (Muslims, Christians) conceived in demographic (rather than political) terms which characterizes the discussion of this question. The insistence of Hindu nationalists on emphasizing that they are the majority tend to blur the difference between Hindu identity and Indian identity, coextensive with the territory of India. This concept, moreover, serves them in their legitimating of the democratic system insofar as the arithmetical rule is a first principle of this political regime. In the name of a secularism founded on the idea of the greater number (and also the supposed ideal of immemorial Hindu tolerance) India must be governed in accordance with demographic fact defined in religious terms. One of the paradoxical consequence of this “majoritarianism” is the development of “majority minority complex” of the Hindus and the increasing hate and violence (against Muslims and Christians). Today, the Hindu nationalism programme effectively dominates public debate. Its partisans has succeeded in discriminating between “friends” and “foes”, those inside and those outside, those whom one holds dear and those whom one pillories on the basis of a real or imaginary menace weighing upon autochthony, culture, religion and race, and the national (state) sovereignty.
L’étude détaillée de la caste en Asie du Sud dans la longue durée, telle que la développe l’école de Cambridge, montre que son existence est avérée bien avant la colonisation et que cette morphologie sociale a traversé nombre de transformations ; en somme, la caste a et est une histoire.Cette réfutation de type structuralo-fonctionnaliste vise la conception post-coloniale de la caste, dominante dans le champ universitaire américain.Mais puisque chacune des interprétations s’appuie et se construit sur l’autre, elles attestent de traditions herméneutiques nationales et impériales contrastées et d’un changement de paradigme en cours.
Assurément, il est/ des savoirs qui ont force et maîtrise, et qui impressionnent par la liberté avec laquelle ils sont exposés. Les questions soulevées par ces travaux s’imposent d’emblée comme des évidences, surtout lorsqu’ils sont portés par un « style qui fait l’homme» et mis en œuvre par une personnalité auxcompétences multiples: philosophe, épistémologue, anthropologue, sociologue et historien, goûtant fort, de surcroît, la polémique. Tel est le cas de l’ultime livre de celui qui a été décrit comme « l’un des derniers grands intellectuels de l’Europe centrale », Ernest Gellner, plus exactement de l’un des deux ouvrages sur lesquels il travaillait avant sa mort soudaine, le 5 novembre 1995, à Prague.